STOCKWELL IS A HOT PROPERTY AGAIN
By Roderick Mann,
[From the Los Angeles Times, November 30,
Three years ago, had you been reading Daily
Variety carefully, you would have come across the following advertisement:
"Dean Stockwell will help you with all
your real estate needs in the new centre of creative energy." A Santa
Fe, N.M. telephone number followed.
Stockwell, an actor all his life, had turned
his back on his craft at the age of 47 and quit Hollywood.
It came as no surprise to his friends. Newly
married some 18 months earlier, anxious to start a family and tired of the
smog in Los Angeles and the fight for good roles, Stockwell had decided to
try his luck in another field.
"With roles not coming along for me, what
else could I do?" he said at the time. "I had no training for
anything. But I felt I could sell houses."
He got no chance to find out. Within months of
getting his real estate license in New Mexico - "It was very difficult,
only 30% passed the test" - Lady Luck, that fickle jade, began dancing
The offers started coming in. Nothing great at
first but encouraging. He landed "To Kill a Stranger," a
Spanish-language movie to be made in Mexico City with Donald Pleasance (Both
actors were dubbed). That led to another movie made in Mexico,
"Dune," playing the evil Dr. Yueh for
director David Lynch.
Then came a role in "Paris, Texas"
directed by Wim Wenders. After that, he rejoined Lynch for "Blue
Velvet," in which he plays a perfumed pimp. Next he flew East to work
with Francis Coppola in "Gardens of Stone." And finally he took off
for Adelaide to make "Time Guardian" for
first-time Australian director Bryan Hannant. He's
still waiting to sell his first house.
he said on a short visit here from his new base south of Santa Barbara,
"is full of surprises."
Stockwell, a popular child actor who had made
some 15 movies (including "Gentleman's Agreement" and "The Boy
With Green Hair") by the time he was in his teens, is now 50, a trim
actor with shoulders remarkably free of chips.
because I truly feel my best is still to come," he said.
Marriage to Joy Marchenko, a sometime actress
he met on the beach during the 1976 Cannes Film Festival, and the births of
two children, a boy 3 and a girl 1, have clearly contributed much to his new
sense of self. "Now all I care about is my family," he said.
"They've changed my perspective about everything. Cannes has been very
lucky for me." (He won the best-actor prizes there for "Long Day's
Journey Into Night" and "Compulsion").
Although he has been acting for as long as he
can remember, Stockwell claims he has never felt he belonged in the
mainstream of show business.
"Never," he said. "I've never
felt part of it; I've always felt I was off to the side, somehow. People are
always asking me: 'Why do you keep making these offbeat movies?' The answer
is: They're the only ones offered to me usually. Perhaps it's because when
you've been around as long as I have, you become invisible to some producers.
They might pay more attention if I just came out of nowhere and turned in the
He believes "Blue Velvet" will help
re-establish his credentials. And he has high hopes for Coppola's
"Gardens of Stone." Based on Nicholas Profitt's novel of the same
name, it's about the Army's chief ceremonial-and-burial unit during the last
days of the Vietnam War. Stockwell plays the unit's company commander. Much
of the story is set at Arlington National Cemetery.
"I'd been up for movies with Francis
before," he said, "but never had any luck. I tested for the
original 'Godfather' [Al Pacino's role of Michael], you know, and almost got
it. So I'm delighted to be in this one, even though it was made under tragic
Right at the start of shooting in May,
Coppola's 23-year-old son Gian-Carlo, was killed in a boating accident near
Annapolis, MD. Griffin O'Neal, his companion in the boat, faces trial on
manslaughter charges next month.
"Gio was the video camera operator on the
movie and he'd been closely involved in all the rehearsals," said
Stockwell. "So his death was a tremendous blow; it cast a pall over
everything. And the dreadful thing was that when Francis came on to the set
after the accident, the first
thing he had to shoot was a funeral scene. Our
movie is full of them.
"Because of the accident, it was a very
grim and sombre time for everyone on the movie. I've never been involved in
anything like it."
Soon after finishing "Gardens of
Stone," Stockwell took off for Australia and a role in "Time
"its Australia's first attempt at a
sci-fi, 'Star Wars' type of movie," he said. "I play the boss of a
city that moves through time."
While there, he renewed acquaintanceship with
Australian actor Jack Thompson, who is writing a screenplay that they hope to
do together next year. Next year, too, Stockwell hopes to work again with
David Lynch on "Ronnie Rocket," which is now being written.